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There cannot be many women who do not approach childbirth with a certain degree of anxiety and trepidation. Many women have a fear of tearing during childbirth and this can, unfortunately, sometimes not be avoided. Mothers are more likely to tear during childbirth if they push before the baby is actually ready to be delivered.
Tearing during childbirth is an extremely common occurrence; in fact it is the most common childbirth injury. 9 out of 10 women tear during childbirth to some extent and tears differ in their severity. Classification of childbirth tears runs from first degree tears up to fourth degree tears - with fourth degree tears being the most severe. Tears can affect only the perineum - the skin and muscles separating the vagina and the anal sphincter, or can extend further than this with the most severe tears affecting the anal canal and the rectum.
Classification of Tears
First degree - These are small tears to the skin of the vagina or perineum, accompanied by no damage to muscles. First degree tears do not usually require stitching.
Second degree - These tears also only effect the vagina/perineum, but are accompanied by damage to the muscles. They require stitching to heal.
Third degree - Third degree tears extend beyond the perineum and into the anal sphincter. More information on third degree tears claims.
Fourth degree - Fourth degree tearing is the most severe type of birth tear. It affects the perineum, anal sphincter and extends beyond this into the anal canal and rectum. An experienced surgeon will have to repair this tear. More information on fourth degree tears claims.
Third and fourth degree tears are less common that first and second degree tears. Approximately 9% of women will experience a third or fourth degree tear during childbirth.
Avoiding Tears during Childbirth
The medical professionals looking after you during the birth of your child - which may include midwives, doctors and consultants - may decide that you need an assisted birth to safely deliver your baby. Assistance may be provided in the form of forceps or a ventouse. Alternatively, the midwife may decide that it is necessary, for the safety of your baby, to perform an episiotomy (a surgical cut in the perineum) if she thinks you are at serious risk of tearing badly without one. Research is conflicting as to its positive or negative effect on the risk of severe tearing during childbirth. However, in general it is accepted that an episiotomy is preferable to a tear and should be instigated during deliveries using forceps and during deliveries in which a tear is predicted to be imminent.
Occasionally, Episiotomy cuts can me made negligently and lead to ongoing pain and suffering. Find out more about Episiotomy injuries.
Medical Negligence leading to Perineal Tears
Perineal tears during childbirth may occur in a number of circumstances, for example, where the midwife or treating doctor fails to perform an episiotomy when doing so would have prevented you from tearing. Tears can also be caused if you are urged to push your baby out before the baby is actually ready to be delivered. If your baby gets stuck, it may be necessary to undergo a caesarean section, and if there is a delay in identifying that your baby is stuck you may be urged to keep pushing which may cause you to tear.
Perineal Tear Claims
The most common basis for a medical negligence claim regarding childbirth tearing is negligent repair. If a vaginal tear is not diagnosed accurately and repaired appropriately following childbirth, this can result in complications for the mother. Claims relating to negligent birth plans may also be possible - previous perineal tearing should be factored in to decisions regarding the current labour to reduce the risk of serious tearing.
In order to pursue a successful claim for medical negligence compensation for a vaginal tear during childbirth, you must be able to prove that the medical professionals caring for you during your labour had been negligent in either an action they have carried out or by omitting to carry out a certain action.
Tears can happen naturally during childbirth - without anyone being to blame - and it is therefore necessary, in order to pursue a claim for medical negligence, to show that your tear could have been avoided but for the negligence of the medical professionals treating you.
What to do if you think you may have a claim for vaginal tear during childbirth
If you think you may have cause to make a claim for a tear suffered during childbirth you should visit your GP as soon as possible to report your concerns and discuss with them the pain and discomfort you are experiencing. When your case is subsequently taken on by a medical negligence solicitor they will arrange for you to attend upon an independent medical expert who will examine you, assess the severity of your tear and determine the exact cause.
It is important to seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible if you think you may have a claim for medical negligence caused during childbirth.
How 1stClaims Can Help
For a free initial enquiry regarding your perineal tear during childbirth claim, give 1st Claims a call on 0800 2888 693 (from a mobile click to call: 01348 630 720) or fill in an online enquiry and have a chat to one of our team about whether or not your claim is viable, and about how we can help you.
Find out more information about other forms of Birth Injury Claim online.
What Happens Next?
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- An explanation of what will happen next if you decide to carry on and make a claim (how your solicitor will take care of everything for you).
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